Call for child obesity checks

QOF Expert says practices should measure eight-month-old babies.

GPs should measure children for signs of being overweight from as early as eight months in an attempt to curb the growing obesity epidemic, according to the Child Growth Foundation (CGF).

Currently, it is estimated that one in three children in the UK will be overweight or obese by the time they reach year six.

At a health seminar hosted last week by the Westminster Health Forum, DoH director of health and wellbeing Dr Will Cavendish said that the time had come to tackle obesity from an early age.

Tam Fry, chairman of the CGF, told GP newspaper that he had approached both NICE and the DoH to discuss the idea of checks for child obesity.

Mr Fry said: 'We want GPs to measure children for signs of obesity at eight months and then again at two years as part of the QOF.'

He said rolling the checks out through the QOF was the ideal way to ensure they were universally taken up.

Mr Fry warned that the current eight-month life check, a questionnaire filled in by parents to evaluate the health of their baby, was not an effective way to monitor child growth.

'At the moment, a health professional does not get to see the baby at eight months. A shortage of health visitors led to the life check becoming a questionnaire rather than an assessment by a health professional.

'It was cancelled in 2003 on political grounds rather than medical grounds.'

It is absolutely vital that this check is reinstated so that a doctor can assess the baby early on, said Mr Fry.

'The chances of success and changing behaviour are far greater at an early age.

'Once a child has been identified as obese, the PCT should have a pathway system in place to advise the mother on making lifestyle changes.

'We will keep pushing with these proposals because this is something that needs to be done,' he said.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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